we sleep (a restless night in new york)

we sleep
as if we
are forgetters

and then we dream

sometimes about ghosts

but mostly
that we are humans
who dream and remember

—P.L. Thomas

the last rest area in Missouri (this trail of me)

I guess I’ve always been a delicate man

“Lemonworld,” The National
i tiptoe through your garden
but it is dark
so there will be carnage

i should have done this barefoot
and in the daylight
i realize stepping blindly

then i could feel and see
this trail of me
my silent destructions

(other people would just tapdance on your heart
or carelessly bloody your shins
ruthless and graceless)

in the morning you will find me surefooted
knees caked in mud
my head resting apologetically against your back door

—P.L. Thomas

this simple thing our happiness

Our hands are covered in cake/But I swear we didn’t have any

“The Geese of Beverly Road,” The National
when we are living our calm life
our own life
just for us and between us

does that bother you?
no let’s be blunt
why does that bother you?

it is no skin off your teeth
or even your knees
this simple thing our happiness

your happiness kneels on the throat
of our happiness
our unhappiness is your singular glee

this sad life of yours 
makes us sad for you and yours
even as the weight of it suffocates us

we’ve asked for nothing
except the space to live our calm life
our own life for us and between us

and it costs you nothing
except your kindness
a kindness you cannot afford

—P.L. Thomas


my father’s fingers brought her sleep

“my father moved through dooms of love,” e.e. cummings
i wear my father on my sleeves

it is a childhood memory
specific and vivid as if true

my father taught me how to wear
a collared shirt properly tucked in

carefully rolling up each sleeve
three times with the cuff neat and smooth

maybe on the same day he taught me
how to tie a necktie like a grown man

my father was wrong about many things
but i carry him in my collared shirts and ties

i wear my father on my sleeves


the universe (Year 61)

no Body understands the universe

a few never even consider the universe
they are lucky

many exclaim that they know the Universe
they are dangerous

others spend their lives trying to understand the universe
they struggle to sleep

some know only one thing: that they do not understand the universe
somehow they sleep

the universe speaks to the fewest among us
they listen

no Body understands the universe

—P.L. Thomas

december 2021 prayer

The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.

“The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats
the day is blanketed gray
the sky the color of smoke

the entire world burned
until nothing remains except ash

i cannot feel anything
because i feel everything

a tree stripped of bark
trunk and limbs the color of bone

we sat in cars houses apartments
watching through our windows the world razed

maybe next year will be better we pray
if we stay inside waiting and hoping it true

—P.L. Thomas


autumn is a mother fucker

trees all topped
in yellows and reds

the colors of death
before the leaves all fall

we gather around smiling
“isn’t the foliage beautiful”

ignoring the browned leaves
crunching as we walk

—P.L. Thomas